Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oden: Somewhere Between Diesel And Darko

I've heard the word 'bust' thrown around with alarming regularity where Blazers center Greg Oden is concerned. I've watched enough Portland games this year to tell you right now that Greg Oden will NOT be a bust. He's a solid rebounder and shot blocker. He's a good guy who works hard. His teammates love him. And he's quite popular with drunk white chicks.

Now for the bad news.

Comparing his first year stats to those of other high profile pivots is a sobering endeavor. Granted, right now Oden is being outplayed by Joel Przybilla (who's shooting over 80% from the field, for fuck's sake!) so he's not getting a full 30-40 minutes of PT. Oden's also fouling a lot, which rookies tend to do. But if the first third of this season is any indication, Oden will certainly not be one of the all time greats when all is said and done.

Here's Oden's 'big man' numbers to date:
8 pts, 8 rebs, 1.5 blks

Kind of underwhelming, yes?

Now here's the rookie statlines for other famous centers chosen in the lottery:

23, 14, 3.5
Dominant immediately. The Diesel was a superstar from day 1.

16.6, 12.3, 3
Interestingly enough, Deke posted his best numbers ever in his rookie campaign.

Dwight Howard
12, 10, 1.7
Has improved steadily every year. Hopefully, Oden will mirror this rise.

Patrick Ewing
20, 9, 2
Money from the jump, although he continued to develop the J and improve his range.

Hakeem Olajuwon
20, 12, 2.6
I can't tell you how many times I've heard experts say that The Dream was 'raw as a rookie'. 20 and 12 is raw? Fuck you.

Bill Russell
14.7, 19.6
The NBA didn't keep track of blocks in Russell's day. But look at that gaudy rebounding total!

Erick Dampier
5, 4, 1
A career scrub. Started that way, will end that way. Makes me mad when people compare Oden to this douchebag.

Rik Smits
11, 6, 1.8
The Dunkin' Dutchman. Worst nickname ever. Developed into an All-Star after a mediocre beginning, though.

Big Z Ilgauskus
14, 9, 1.6
Hasn't changed much, in skill or appearance. Here's Z on draft day (pictured).

Shawn Bradley
10, 6, 3
See my column about the NBA's Biggest Asshole.

Kwame Brown
4.5, 3.5
Jordan called him a pussy. Years later, so did Phil Jackson. They were both right. What a shocker that he's not working out for Detroit.

Michael Olowokandi
9, 8, 1.2
Yikes. These are eerily similar to what Oden's numbers look like.

Andrew Bogut
9, 7, 1
The Bucks drafted this Aussie dork over CP3 and Deron Williams. Double doh!

Darko Milicic
1.4, 1.2, .4
Speaking of draft day mistakes, Dumars chose this dumbfuck ahead of Melo and DWade.

Chris Kaman
6, 6, 1
I can't say anything. Kaman's too easy a target.

Tyson Chandler
6, 5, 1.3
A skinny teenager straight out of high school. Now look at him- one the league's best defenders and rebounders.

I picture Oden gaining steam and finishing the year closer to 13/10/2, which would put him in the Big Z/Rik Smits/Dwight Howard category for rookie production. I'm not sure that justifies a number one overall selection, though. Ten years from now, will we look back and mock Portland for passing on Al Horford?

Loose Balls- Thursday

Man, what a classic game last night between the Hawks and Celtics. This monster dunk by Josh Smith. Numerous clutch buckets by KG in the 4th. And Joe Johnson missing the game tying free throw at the end, prompting Paul Pierce to walk off the court labeling JJ a choke artist. I really hope these two squads go at it again in the playoffs.

The Hornets/Spurs contest was also spectacular. Every time I see Chris Paul, I�m more impressed. The guy�s a bulldog. He�s barely six feet tall but he plays low to the ground, making him appear even shorter. But don�t be fooled. That low center of gravity gives him the best opportunity to get to any loose ball or mishandled dribble. He broke an NBA record last night by recording a steal in his 106th straight game. He also won a key jump ball against Manu Ginobili (who�s six inches taller, btw) in the game�s deciding minutes. Dude�s a stud.

Speaking of studs, did anyone see this double/double spree coming from Paul Millsap? At this point, Utah could afford to let Carlos Boozer leave for Miami and not lose anything at the 4 spot. Millsap�s certainly a WAY better defender than Boozer already. Plus he's not an acne-covered steroid muncher.

Boozer: 'Huh, what?'

Friday, December 12, 2008

KG- All Talk

Lots of coverage lately about the unhinged behavior of Kevin Garnett. Of course you've seen the much discussed incidents with Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless. Many pundits consider his antics a motivational tactic. I'm more inclined to think that KG's just a foul-mouthed spaz with a glandular disorder or some particularly obscene form of Tourette's Syndrome.

He's certainly no tough guy. Despite all the trashtalk, this is what happens when somebody actually calls KG out (in this case former journeyman Anthony Peeler).

Personally, I've always been entertained by his quirkiness but I'm surprised that more players haven't pulled a Peeler and clocked his ass.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Power Of The Plus/Minus is pretty bad ass. Basically, they compile every stat imaginable to give a true indication of actual performance beyond the box score. My favorite stat is plus/minus per 48 minutes, which essentially tracks a player's performance, even in limited minutes, and predicts what kind of an impact that player would have over a full game. The plus/minus isn't just about scoring; it's about the overall effect on both ends of the court and how that translates into winning.

Using 82games data, I went through every team in the league and put together what each team's ideal lineup would be based on this theory. This doesn't mean these players should all be starters but it does mean they should get big minutes and be on the floor when the game's decided. I only included players who were already in the rotation since garbage time stats can be misleading.

What I discovered is that several big name stars would better serve their teams by riding the pine (I'm talking to you, AI).


Josh Smith's numbers project to an astonishing +19.4 per 48 minutes. This makes him the 2nd most effective player in the entire NBA right now (Lamar Odom's first with 20.1 but more on him later).

Best lineup- Bibby, Johnson, Williams, Smith, Horford

Kudos to Mike Woodson for knowing the numbers and playing his best unit big minutes.

No surprises. KG leads the team at +15.5. Ray Allen's second at 14.8.

Best- Rondo, Allen, Pierce, KG, Perkins

The entire team is in the negative so it's really just a matter of choosing who sucks the least. Also, basketball is a team sport so one good player can't make the other four not suck. Jason Richardson has their best numbers (-0.9), Matt Carroll, their worst (-10.1).

Best- Augustin, Felton, Richardson, Wallace, Okafor

Andres Nocioni is a winner (+4.8) and should be not only starting but playing huge minutes on a team full of minuses. Thought Derrick Rose was a superstar? Think again- he's -5.5. Vinny Del Negro should also be aware that Drew Gooden's playing 30 minutes a game despite his awful production (-8.2)

Best- Rose, Gordon, Deng, Nocioni, Noah

The King lives up to his title with a gaudy +17.3. Delonte West is right on his heels at +15.7

Best- Williams, West, James, Wallace, Z

Contrary to popular belief, Kidd (+7.5) and Dirk (+6.9) are meshing well. The big surprise? Dampier (+10.5) actually has the best number on the team. Who's got the worst? Jerry Craphouse at an abysmal -24.6. In fact, that number makes Craphouse the league's worst player per 48. He's now out of the rotation and asking for a trade.

Best- Kidd, Terry, Howard, Nowitzki, Dampier

Sorry, Craphouse. No minutes for you.

Chauncey's leading the team at +7.9. That AI trade's looking better all the time. Linas Kleiza is playing over 20 minutes a game but not producing (-2.8)

Best- Billups, JR Smith (not Dahntay Jones), Melo, Martin, Nene

Speaking of AI, he's at -1.7 and his ballhogging has made Rip Hamilton considerably less effective (-2.6). Stick 'em both on the bench. Arron Afflalo has been excellent (+12.8) in limited minutes- give him a shot.

Best- Stuckey, Afflalo, Prince, Sheed, Amir Johnson

Here's a clear case where the suggested change obviously WON'T happen. No way Curry brings AI or Rip off the bench but according to 82games, the Pistons would have a better chance of winning if he did.

Jamal Crawford is a great example of a guy who puts up numbers that don't translate to wins. Since coming to the Warriors, he's at -12.9. Kelenna Azubuike's pretty awful, too (-8.7). Ronny Turiaf, AKA The Chocolate Moose, is the team's most efficient player at +4.7.

Best- CJ Watson, Maggette, Jax, Turiaf, Biedrins

Shane Battier only played in a handful of games before getting hurt but his numbers are off the charts (+16.1). Yao's second at +8.5.

Best- Alston, Battier, McGrady, Artest, Yao

Yep, that's a lineup with Ron Ron at PF. Try it out, Adelman. Move Scola to the bench.

Granger (+3.2) and Marquis Daniels (+2.7) are their only good players. Little wonder they're a mediocre ballclub.

Best- Ford, Daniels, Granger, Murphy, Nesterovic

Nobody on the positive side. Camby's the closest at -1.4. Kaman (-9) and Ricky Davis (-21.3 for fuck's sake!) are the real reason this club is complete dogshit. Other than Craphouse, Ricky Buckets has been the worst rotation player in the game. I say 'has been' not because he IS ONE but because he hasn't seen significant PT in weeks.

Best- Baron, Gordon, Thornton, Randolph, Camby

As previously mentioned, Lamar leads the entire league at +20.1. It should be noted that he's frequently matched up with 2nd unit guys now that he's a 6th man so that stat might need an asterisk. Trevor Ariza's also at an eye-popping +18.2. Kobe's just being Kobe (+14.7). The entire rotation has big numbers but these three are the biggest contributors to the team's 17-2 start.

Best- Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Lamar, Pau

'Only 25 minutes a game for me, Phil? C'mon!'

Media darlings OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay (can I just combine their names and call them Ru J Gayo?) get a lot of attention for their big scoring numbers but these two are getting smashed in plus/minus (-7.6 and -8.6 respectively). The team is so bad, they're still the best options for big minutes but neither of these guys should be considered a star by any means. Like Jamal Crawford, they get points but not results. The team's best players? Darko and Hakim Warrick, believe it or not.

Best- Lowry, Mayo, Gay, Warrick, Milicic

Wade (+6.9) and Marion (+5.7) are solid. Michael Beasley's getting ripped in the press but still manages to stay in the black at +1.1.

Best- Chalmers, Wade, Marion, Beasley, Haslem

Sessions is better than Ridnour (+1.1 to -1.1). Charlie Bell is the weak link at -6.7. Rookie Luc Richard Mbaha Moute should be starting.

Best- Sessions, Redd, Jefferson, Mbaha Moute, Bogut

Not that Wittless is gone, McFail decides who gets the minutes. The smart money's on benching Gomes (-8.1) and Assy Telfair (-4.9).

Best- Foye, McCants, Miller, Love, Jefferson

Devin Harris is the only starter playing winning ball. Expect the losses to start piling up any day now. Their best chance of winning is with this lineup (seriously).

Best- Harris, Carter, Hassell, Yi, Lopez

No positives. Tim Thomas is the worst at -16. Harrington's at -6.9. Blech.

Best- Duhon, Q, Chandler, Lee, Harrington

Earl Watson (-19) and Nick Collison (-22.5) are playing CBA ball out there. Russell Westbrook and Joe Smith are much better options at those positions.

Best- Westbrook, Mason, Durant, Smith, Wilcox

Michael Pietrus was playing beautifully before getting hurt (+11.8). Good acquisition by Otis Smith (can't believe I just wrote that!).

Best- Nelson, Pietrus, Turk, Rashard, Howard

The numbers seem to indicate that the Sixers are losing mostly due to poor play by their bench, specifically Louis Williams (-6.9). Iggy leads the team at +4.3.

Best- Miller, Iggy, Thaddeus, Brand, Dalembert

Nash is the best starter at +3.4. Shaq's breaking even. Leandro Barbosa's fallen off a cliff at -7.2. His mother just died so maybe he's having trouble focusing.

Best- Nash, Bell, Barnes, Diaw, Stoudemire (sorry, Shaq)

Nic Batum (+9.3) and Aldridge (+9.2) lead the team. Prezbo (+6.1) is outplaying Oden (+0.3).

Best- Blake, Roy, Batum, Aldridge, Prezbo

Their 'best' is Beno Udrih at -4. Bobby Brown (and I'm not being cruel) is at -12. Rookie Jason Thompson is deserving of some extra burn.

Best- Beno, Salmons, Thompson, Mikki Moore, Brad Miller (in your face, Lil' Brad Hawes)

Bonner! +11.7! I'm speechless. Ime Udoka's next at +8.8. So why the slow start? Amazingly, Duncan and Parker are both in the red for the year.

Best- TP, Ginobili, Udoka, Bonner, Duncan

Kris Humphries and Jamario Moon have been their only good players. Bosh and Calderon are both hovering around -2. Jermaine is a weak -5.3.

Best- Calderon, Parker, Moon, Humphries, Bosh

AK47 and Paul Millsap have been excellent. DWill and Boozer, even when healthy, have been only so-so.

Best- Williams, Brewer, Kirilenko, Millsap, Okur

You know you're fucked when Nick Young and Andray Blatche are your best players. Deshawn Stevenson (-12.1) better grow his beard back or something.

Best- Juan Dixon, Butler, Jamison, Songaila, rookie Javale McGee

So there you have it. Again, not necessarily the best starting units but a strong recommendation for who should be out there in the 4th quarter when the game's on the line.

Thanks, 82games. You rock.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not A Good Look: The Predator

I don't spend much time playing fashion police but every now and then a style comes along that is so...well, unstylish that I have to point at it and laugh. Hard. Today, I single out ballers who proudly rock The Predator. Definitely not a good look.

For all of you who live in a cave (or avoid really bad movies), this is The Predator.

And now, on to the imitators...

Marquis Daniels. My man. To quote the timeless classic Booty Call (holla!), 'Tarantula head fool! Motherfucker look like Predator!'

Renaldo Balkman says the party's in the back...near The Predator!

And Axl Rose proves that redheaded whiteboy douchebags are also not impervious to the persuasive power of The Predator.

The irony here is that all of these guys probably have well-paid stylists. Well, money can't buy taste. Watch out, Drew Gooden. I'm coming for you next.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Loose Balls- Monday

What�s up with the last place Sixers? Picked by many experts to challenge Boston for the Atlantic crown, Mo Cheeks� sorry crew has looked positively clueless while stumbling to a 7-10 mark.

The biggest issue: Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand don�t fit together. With EB clogging up the paint, Philly can�t run isolations or pick and rolls on the perimeter for Iggy.

Additionally, Andre Miller�s post-up game (one of his strengths) is no longer an asset since Brand�s big butt is occupying the entire painted area. Instead, Miller�s left to loiter at the 3 point line where he�s not much of a threat (4 made 3s in 17 games so far).

Brand�s lack of footspeed has also put the breaks on the burgeoning Sixer running game.

Brand's a good player, don't get me wrong. But he's not the RIGHT player for that system. In retrospect, maybe that money would have been better spent on Josh Smith (or saved for the Lebron/Wade/Bosh sweepstakes).


Who are these suddenly competitive New Jersey Nets? Even though they�re being outscored by almost three points a game on average, they�re staying above .500 largely because of All-Star caliber play from Devin Harris. Seeing Harris score 47 last night probably gave Mark Cuban a fucking ulcer.

Looking back, can we now safely say that last year�s draft was not, in fact, the best of all time (as it was widely hailed a year ago)? Kevin Durant is developing nicely into the next Tracy McGrady- not the next Michael Jordan. And Greg Oden? Right now, he�s more Dikembe Mutombo than Hakeem Olajuwon. The 1984 Draft, which featured Jordan, Hakeem (Akeem back then), Barkley and John Stockton, remains the standard by which all other drafts are measured. The 2003 Draft, with Lebron, Wade, Melo and Bosh, would probably be my runner-up.

Pictured: The Dream with El Douche in '84

Gotta give some love to Portland. Starting two defensive-minded rookies, Oden and Nic Batum, the Blazers are playing tough, physical basketball while holding opponents to 93 points a game. Their first unit, spearheaded by MVP candidate Brandon Roy, has established early leads in every game I�ve watched this year. They�re not a championship club yet, but I wouldn�t want to see them in the playoffs.

Speaking of MVP, there are only five players in the conversation at this point. Given that the MVP always comes from teams that win 50 plus games, only Kobe, Lebron, Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce and Brandon Roy qualify so far. Chris Paul is playing his ass off but his teammates, notably MIA Tyson Chandler, can hardly say the same.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Loose Balls- Tuesday

Cleveland's sitting purty atop the Central at 10-3 but a closer look at their schedule shows that they've beaten up on patsies (Charlotte, Indy) while losing to the league's elite (Boston, New Orleans). Sure, they defeated Utah, but only because the Jazz were playing without Deron Williams, Memo Okur and AK47. The Cavs November and December calendar is softer than tissue paper but we'll know after a tough stretch in January that features the Lakers, Hornets and Jazz whether or not Cleveland's legit.

The Zach Randolph for Cuttino Mobley/Tim Thomas trade has apparently hit a snag because of questions over Mobley's heart, SI reports. Certainly the irony isn't lost on hoops fans who've watched Z-Bo meander through eight full seasons of basketball with absolutely no heart whatsoever.

This article in the Oregonian perfectly sums up the shitfest that was last night's Portland/Sacto 'contest.' Brandon Roy- good. Everything else in this game- putrid. Greg Oden looked completely lost trying to guard the Kings bigs (Brad Miller and Spencer 'Lil' Brad' Hawes) out on the perimeter. And is it just me, or is Lil' Brad pulling a 'Single White Female' and totally stealing Big Brad's look?

Pictured: Big Brad & Lil' Brad jump around against NO

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The NBA: Where Belt-Tightening Happens

On the surface, the big stories so far this season are the continued Lakers/Celtics rivalry and the free agent status of superstar Lebron James. But what�s really on everyone�s mind is how the current financial crisis will impact the league long-term. Allow me to indulge is some gloom and doom for a moment�

With attendance dwindling and many small market teams hemorrhaging cash, we might be witnessing the end of the big-spending era where players got 100 million dollar contracts based on potential. The Knicks just basically gave away Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph for the opportunity to sign James in 2010. According to league reports, as many as 14 teams are lining up to spend their money on Lebron. Yes, he�s one of the best players in the game but he�s also a proven commodity. He�ll sell tickets and help you win games. Practically speaking, that�s a good investment.

Gone are the days when Atlanta would give Jon Koncak 10 mil a season to get 5 points, 8 boards and a block. Gone are the days when Juwan Howard got a six year deal for being Washington�s third best player. In fact, if ticket prices ultimately go down based on poor attendance (makes sense, right?), it�s entirely possible that we�ll see the elimination of the well-paid role player (guys like James Posey or Lamar Odom). To stay profitable, each team would consist of two maxed-out stars and a bunch of minimum wage CBA guys. All those mid-level exception guys would either have to take pay cuts to stay in the league or go look for better deals overseas. Another possibility is that all of the role players play for one-year, non-guaranteed contracts, kind of like the special teams guys in the NFL.

Well paid coaches would probably also get the boot, unless they were winning titles, of course. Mike Dunleavy- gone. Scott Skiles- gone. Rick Carlisle- gone. Now I know this sounds pretty fucking bleak but with the unemployment rate getting higher every day, the average consumer is likely to make cutbacks on spending and I seriously doubt whether even the most hardcore fan would choose hoops tickets over paying the rent.

David Stern, the epitome of corporate douchebaggery, has been frantically trying to set up shop in China so he can jump ship the second it starts sinking. Great leadership there, you prick.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Heading For A Lakers-Celtics Rematch?

I know, I know- it's early. Seven games does not a season make. But seven games DOES give you a pretty good idea of how players are going to mesh and whether or not they'll fit in to new systems and roles. It's also a good sample size for plus/minus and margin of victory. And after three weeks of basketball, it's apparent that last season's finalists, the Lakers and Celtics, are the class of the league. What a surprise. Thanks, Captain Obvious. What IS shocking is how much better they are than anyone else.

LA, the league's only remaining undefeated at 7-0, is absolutely crushing teams. With Andrew Bynum manning the middle, they're currently first in the league in scoring AND points allowed. Unheard of. Obviously, their +18 differential won't hold up for an entire season but I can't recall a start this impressive on both ends by any team since the 72-win Bulls. The difference between this year's team and last? Bynum's improved health and skill level, mainly. But Phil also moved Lamar Odom to the 6th man spot and replaced Luke Walton in the rotation with Trevor Ariza, both shrewd moves that were second-guessed at the time.

Boston's picked up right where they left off, playing stifling D and relying on clutch shooting from Paul Pierce. The Celts only loss off the season was a fluke to Indiana, for fuck's sake. Tony Allen's done an admirable job filling in for the departed James Posey. KG's anchoring a defense that's holding opponents to 39% shooting. Ridiculous.

When you factor in that several key competitors, namely San Antonio and Detroit, have taken big steps backward so far, things are looking pretty good for another Lakers-Celtics Finals. But again, it's very early.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

WTF? Headscratching Galore

Portland's off to a slow start this year and one of the key reasons is Nate McMillan's decision to play Steve Blake at point and move Roy to 2. If you'll recall, just last season, with the team mired in mediocrity, Roy went to McMillan and pleaded with the coach to let him run point and handle the ball more. The result? 13 game win streak. So what happens this year? Nate opens the season with Blake at point. I don't get it. Especially when Blake is a career backup, for fuck's sake.

And who could possibly envision the Spurs starting 1-4? No Manu, no Parker, no bench. Michael Finley and Kurt Thomas look positively ancient. And their D sucks- they're giving up 105 a game. I fully expect them to turn it around and finish somewhere in the 5-6 seed neighborhood. But what if they don't? Could it be possible San Antonio misses the playoffs? We know that LA, New Orleans, Utah, Houston and Phoenix will be there. And Dallas, probably. That only leaves two spots for Portland, Denver and the Spurs to fight over. Pop's teams always start slowly, but not usually THIS slowly. Strange days, indeed.

None of this week's oddities freaked me out quite as much as watching Joakim Noah and Anderson Varejao guard each other in the Bulls/Cavs game. Yuck. I've sung Varejao's praises in the past and also predicted that Noah will someday be a serviceable, if not great, player. But seeing the two of them go against each other? Wow. The horror, the hair, the baby fat. Disgusting.

Speaking of disgusting, how much of a steaming shitpile is the Golden State organization right now? The players hate the coach, the coach hates the GM, the GM hates the owners. Their best player (Monta) won't see the court until midseason. They let Baron go and replaced him with Cory Fucking Maggette. What a botch job. Stephen Jackson has to be wondering whether or not it's a good idea to stay there long term.

The only team in deeper doodoo than GS? The Clips, who've spiraled down to 0-6 and appear to have thrown in the towel exactly two weeks into an eight month season. My buddy Big Ben thinks that Elgin Baylor put a curse on Dunleavy for the backstabbingly rude dismissal. My theory is that any team with Ricky Davis on the roster immediately sucks balls. Let's call it the Ricky Davis Effect- dramatic weakening through sheer exposure. Like Kryptonite for Superman. Or Palin for McCain.

Not all of this year's early surprises are disaster movies, however. The Atlanta Hawks, despite having absolutely no bench whatsoever, are undefeated and just beat the Hornets on the road. Joe Johnson is playing MVP basketball. Horford and Smith are legit. They're beating teams by double digits. I'm genuinely impressed. One injury and they're sub .500 again but Hawks fans (bwaaahaaahaaa!) should enjoy this cohesion while it lasts.

*Note- Josh Smith sprained his ankle against Toronto and is out 2-4 weeks. Sorry, Hawks fans (bwaaaahaaaahaaaa!)

My take on the AI/Chauncey trade: Detroit immediately loses their contender status this year but puts themselves in position to sign Lebron/Wade/Bosh after the season. Good move for them. Denver is slightly better than they were but still has no center and little to no chance of coming out of the brutal West. And they just committed to more money long term. Way to go, Kroenke!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The season's officially underway and already there are a handful of great plotlines developing.

The Good
The Lakers have blown out the Blazers and Clippers and looked dominant in doing so. Their defense has been disruptive, allowing them to get out and run. Also, using Lamar Odom as a sixth man is working out swimmingly so far for Phil Jackson.

Pop's Beard also came out of the gates strong. In addition to covering up his acne, the beard also makes Pop look kind of like Bill Murray (and that's a good thing).

The pic below isn't actually Pop (duh). I couldn't find any shots of his new beard so you'll have to live with this one.

Rudy Fernandez showed he's ready to play right now for Portland. Don't be surprised to see the rook starting soon, moving Roy to point and Blake to the bench.

Paul Pierce and Lebron James continued their burgeoning rivalry with epic performances on opening night.

The Bad
Bruce Bowen in an NBA Cares commercial. Lame. Not cool. If the NBA really cared, they'd suspend Bowen more often for his kicks, punches, trips, pokes and overall douchebaggery.

Speaking of commercials, why is the NBA running their 'where (insert cliche) happens' campaign again? Are they out of money? I want a new campaign, damn it! By the end of last year, that repetitive piano interlude was cringe inducing. Hearing it again on opening night made me want to kill myself.

What's up with Luke Walton only getting four minutes off the bench against Portland? Doghouse?

No Robert Horry to be found. I guess he's retired, officially. Maybe he'll pull a PJ Brown and sign on for a short season with a contender. Be nice to see him back with LA.

The Ugly
Memphis scoring 71 against Houston. OJ Mayo going 5-20. Bet Heisley's glad he traded Kevin Love AND Mike Miller for this kid. When you're getting swindled by Kevin McHale, maybe it's time to quit the business.

Greg Oden's debut was frightening on several levels. For the few minutes he was actually on the court, he looked awkward and skittish, especially on offense. Then, of course, he got injured again. This time he's out 2-4 weeks. Jury's still out on the brittle big man, although my money's on him getting it together in time to win that ROY trophy.

And in closing I'd also like to give a big fuck you to David Stern and his opening night party for the Oklahoma City Super Stolens. Attention, fans of the Milwaukee Bucks (insert laughter here): King Stern has you on his radar. Better build a new arena or the next team stolen might be yours.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

13 Years Of Fines And Suspensions

Check out this awesome site that lists every NBA fine since 1994/5. For whatever reason, the entire page is done in a weird purple font but it's still great reading, especially the early years and all the controversy you might have forgotten about, like Charles Barkley leading the league in technicals. Or Dennis Rodman's rocky stretch with the Spurs.

Stern Screws Americans While Wooing Chinese

If you've read my previous columns about David Stern (like 'David Stern: World's Biggest Piece Of Shit' or 'Fire David Stern'), then you'd know how I feel about this douchebag. Today he announced that the NBA was laying off 90 people due to the economic crisis. Meanwhile, he continues to spearhead an effort to establish a presence in China.

The NBA. Where made in China happens.

I'm not gonna go off on a political rant but it's common knowledge that one of the reasons our economy's fucked is because of greedy corporations farming American jobs out to countries with no labor laws or minimum wage. As you know, frequently these countries employ children. But Stern doesn't give a shit about human rights violations; he just wants to get paid.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Drinking The Training Camp Kool-Aid

Training camp is for dreamers- or salesmen, depending on your perspective. This time of year, the bullshit flies fast and furious as delusional managers and players pretend their teams are much better than they actually are. As Brent Barry so aptly puts it, 'everyone's talking about rose petals and rainbows.'

But the fans recognize hyperbole when they see it.

Like when Mike D'Antoni tells the media that Stephon Marbury is one of the best players in the league. C'mon. Even at his absolute apex, Marbury was barely an All-Star, much less an elite player. And his teams always sucked so that should tell you something.

Hey, Mike- here's your MVP humping what appears to be some kind of flotation device. Guess the interns were busy.

Want some more bullshit? How 'bout Atlanta's Mike Bibby referring to teammate Speedy Claxton as 'one of the best guards in the NBA'? I'm speechless.

Or Jermaine O'Neal predicting Toronto will finish with the league's best record? Yeah, that'll happen.

Or Andrew Bogut singing the praises of Luke Ridnour? Really? The same Luke Ridnour who couldn't beat out Earl Watson for minutes on the Sonics? THAT Luke Ridnour?

Or Yao Ming saying he's 100% healthy? Reaaaalllly? As a fantasy owner of his two years in a row, I'm convinced that Yao was born injured.

Or Smush Parker (yes, Smush Parker!) saying that the Nuggets will be mainly focusing on defense this year? I don't know what's more ridiculous about that assertion- that he'll actually make the team or that Denver will hold teams under 200 without Camby in there.

But nothing rings more false than Baron Davis gushing over his great discussion about team chemistry with...wait for it...Tim Thomas and Ricky Davis.

Team chemistry. With Tim Thomas and Ricky Davis! That's like discussing Charles Darwin with Billy Graham.

But this is Spring. Nobody's lost 10 in a row yet. No fans are booing yet. No players in contract years are stuck in the skipper's doghouse yet. So for the time being, love is in the air and everyone's giddy with unrealistic expectations.

Leave it to hard-ass Greg Popozitz to put things in perspective.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Remembering The X-Man

Xavier McDaniel was a bad motherfucker. After being drafted by the Seattle Sonics, he famously said 'I'll lose a tooth for every rebound' (and me meant it).

He fought Charles Oakley.

He choked Lakers guard Wes Matthews (pictured).

And he had this memorable cameo in 'Singles', reminding Campbell Scott not to bust his nut too early.

X-Man was on some pretty good teams, too. Along with Dale Ellis and Tom Chambers, McDaniel helped Seattle make the playoffs a few times. When he was traded to New York, the Knicks reached the 7th Game of the Eastern Conference Finals before bowing out to Jordan's Bulls.

X-Man was only an All-Star once but he made a name for himself with toughness and intensity.

Monday, September 29, 2008

David Stern- World's Biggest Piece Of Shit

I hate David Stern. I Googled some clips, videos and articles by fellow Stern-bashers to cheer myself up. It didn't work. I hated him even more afterwards.

Here's the royal dickhead talking about how great Key Arena is, before completely switching course and telling Seattle taxpayers they had to build a new arena or lose the team.

This is a pretty creative definition of the man.

Lil' Davey being a prick to a reporter.

This column implies that Stern takes sadistic pleasure in punishing players.

A touching goodbye to the Sonics with some choice words for Stern.

Suck it, Stern. Everyone hates you. Die.

(pictured: pigfucker Stern and Grand Douchebag Clay Bennett)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Arenas: The Latest Falling Star

Every year, a new crop of amazing talent comes into the league, each player thinking he's got what it takes to be one of the all-time greats. The statistics tell us that most of these rookies are out of the league in three years or less, on average.

Some end up on teams that are bad fits for their skill set. Some just aren't as good as they thought they were.

And others have bodies that break down on them. This decline is especially sad when the player in question is undoubtedly becoming a star, perhaps a future Hall Of Famer.

Hearing the news about Gilbert Arenas going under the knife again reminded me of other gifted players before him who showed stints of brilliance and then faded away in a rash of debilitating injuries:

Danny Manning- After being drafted #1 overall by the Clippers, Manning blew out his knee 26 games into his rookie season. He recovered to reach All Star status and then promptly tore the ACL on his OTHER knee. He retired after 13 seasons, having spent as much time on the IR as on the court.

Grant Hill- Through his first five seasons in Detroit, Hill had points, rebounds and assists numbers comparable to Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird. Then he broke his ankle so badly that doctors needed to rebreak it and fuse it to the leg. Then he was traded to Orlando, where his huge contract and brittle body made him the object of tremendous ridicule. Now he's missing games for Phoenix.

Derek Smith- You've probably never heard of Derek Smith but I put him on this list because he was a 20 ppg scorer and an All-Star for the Clippers before blowing out his knee. More importantly, he's credited with inventing the high five. Seriously.

So best of luck to Gilbert Arenas. I wish him a full recovery and the opportunity to realize his potential. Chances are, however, that we've seen the best of him already.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Good On Paper: 'Going Big'

Bryan Colangelo was just quoted as saying he plans on using Andrea Bargnani at the 3 spot this season. To which I might say, 'Are you fucking kidding?'

This idea is tossed around all the time in the NBA. 'We'll go big, create a matchup problem.'

The only problem is IT NEVER WORKS.

In fact, more often than not, the other coach will react by GOING SMALL and put a game-changing run together.


Footspeed. Footspeed is the key to winning basketball games, not length. Footspeed allows teams to trap and cover for each other on defense. Footspeed forces turnovers and creates fast breaks.

Simply put, size is overrated.

That's never more blatantly obvious than on draft day where doofus' like Olowokandi or Kwame Brown (or Bargnani) go higher than much more talented players just because they're taller.

So go ahead, Colangelo. Stick Bargnani on Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Paul Pierce, Ron Artest or Vince Carter (pictured). Good luck with that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Western Conference Predictions 2008/9

The big Qs- Is Bynumite the missing piece? Does Posey put the Hornets over the top? Are the Spurs done? Is this the year Ron Ron eats a baby?

Pacific Division
Los Angeles Lakers (62-20)

With Bynum back in the fold, they'll finish with the best record in the league. But without dealing one of their PFs (Odom, Gasol) for a versatile 3 (like Marion), they won't have the defensive balance to win a title. I also wonder who'll fill in for Turiaf as the energy guy off the bench. I'm seeing a Game 7 loss in the Western Conference Finals. And another MVP for Kobe, bad pinkie and all.

Phoenix Suns (58-24)
Even with all the chaos Steve Kerr hath wrought, this team still has Nash, Amare and Barbosa. That should be good enough for their customary heartbreaking loss in the 2nd round of the playoffs. The most interesting plotline here: is this Shaq's last season? And if so, what's his legacy- Most Dominant Ever or egomaniacal stooge?

*Note- Shaq just announced he plans to play two more seasons.

Los Angeles Clippers (45-37)
The Baron/Brand Conspiracy Gone Wrong was the story of the summer. And I'm still amazed that they got Camby from Denver for a 2nd round pick. Things were actually looking good until they signed Ricky Davis and Jason Williams, the basketball equivalent of having SARS and Avian Bird Flu in the locker room.

*Note- Jason Williams announced he's retiring. Add another couple wins to LA's predicted total.

Golden State Warriors (28-54)
Went from tantalizing to terrible in a month. This Monta Ellis fiasco couldn't come at a worse time. And if they were gonna spend that much dough on Maggette, why didn't they just pay Baron in the first place? A real botch job by Mullin. Silver lining: rookie Anthony Randolph was dominant in Summer League (but then again, so was Koko Archibong).

Sacramento Kings (19-63)
No cowbells ringing this year. Their two best players, Kevin Martin and John Salmons, play the same position. They traded Artest for an old, hobbled Bobby Jackson. Brad Miller still can't guard a chair. Bye bye, Reggie Theus. Nice knowing you. Maybe you can go back into modeling.

Southwest Division
New Orleans Hornets (60-22)

They won't sneak up on anybody this year. But the addition of Posey provides another tested playoff performer and perimeter defender, both important qualities they lacked. Another season of chemistry between CP3, West and Chandler leads to Byron Scott's first championship as a coach.

Houston Rockets (58-24)
The fragile bodies of Yao and TMac keep Houston from being a true contender, even with madman Artest on board. And Rafer Alston isn't a leader by any stretch of the imagination. Their roster is deep, though. If all the cards fall into place, they could be scary. More likely, they play well in spurts that coincide with the everchanging moods of Ron Ron.

San Antonio Spurs (54-28)
First, the bad: Ginobili's injury means they'll start slow. Bruce Bowen is 37 so his days as a stopper are coming to an end. Michael Finley remains one of the least effective starters in the league. The good: Duncan's still only 32. Parker's still Parker. Popovich remains one of the game's best coaches. Ditto for Buford as GM. So even with bad omens everywhere, they could still hoist another trophy in June.

Dallas Mavericks (46-36)
Jason Kidd is a shadow of his former self. I'm a Carlisle fan but I don't see how much more he can get out of this aging bunch who seem to have left their collective heart in Miami two years ago. They still play pansy-ass, jump shooting basketball, not a recipe for success in a man's league. Dirk continues his downward career arc from 'the next Larry Bird' to 'the next Tom Chambers.'

Memphis Grizzlies (12-70)
Worst team in basketball, right here. Other than Rudy Gay, they've got nothing. OJ Mayo will have every opportunity to show the world what a slightly-above-average basketball player he is. Subtract an additional three wins if the Zach Randolph trade goes through. Mike Conley continues to develop...very...slowly. As Yoda would say, 'Unwatchable, they will be.'

Northwest Division
Utah Jazz (55-27)

So predictable, so efficient, so boring. Another solid year for DWilliams and Boozer. Another year of hard fouls from Harpring. Another year of wifeswapping for Kirilenko. Yawn.

Portland Trail Blazers (50-32)
Tough luck: as soon as Oden comes back, Brandon Roy goes down. Expect things to start clicking around mid-season as Rudy Fernandez gets comfy and everyone's healthy at the same time. Still think they should've kept James Jones, though. Oden averages 13/10/3 to edge Beasley for ROY.

Denver Nuggets (38-44)
Blow 'em up, start over. Without Camby in the middle, this team will give up 180 points a game. No way they finish the season with Melo, Iverson AND George Karl on the payroll. When your biggest offseason move is giving a fat contract to JR Smith, you know you're fucked. Maybe Kenyon Martin will punch Nene again. At least that'd be exciting.

Minnesota Timberwolves (24-58)
Let the Kevin Love era begin. I'm sure he'll win a handful of games with his artful outlet passes alone. I keeeed, I keeeeed. It'll be more of the same drudgery in 'Sota as McHale proves again his complete ineptitude at drafting. Mike Miller seems to be making a career of scoring points on dreadful teams. He's like the Kelly Tripucka of this generation.

Oklahoma City Thunder (18-64)
Fuck Clay Bennett. That douchebag doesn't deserve Kevin Durant. Or sold out arenas. May the ghost of Detlef Schremph eternally haunt this franchise.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Eastern Conference Predictions 2008/9

The big Qs- Can Boston repeat? Will Detroit rebuild? Does Lebron leave Cleveland? Does Marion get traded? Why did D'Antoni take that job?

Boston Celtics (55-27)

Losing James Posey will definitely hurt. Don't forget that throughout their march to the ring, Doc referred to Posey as 'the fourth member of the Big Three', whatever the fuck that means. I'm also expecting slippage due to post-title complacency and the Limberger effect of Darius Miles. No repeat here.

Toronto Raptors (48-34)

Did you know that Jermaine O'Neal makes twenty million dollars this year? That's a lot of scratch for a guy who plays the same position as Chris Bosh. I know, I know, it's the East, 'Jermaine can play center.' But he's not a center, right? He's a power forward, and a brittle one at that. Underrated Anthony (Don't Call Me Candace) Parker and Jamario Moon will continue to compensate for the overall suckiness of former #1, Andrea Bargnani.

Philadelphia Sixers (43-39)
Don't get me wrong, I like Elton Brand. I do. But Philly got to the playoffs last year by trapping and running off of turnovers. Not exactly Elton's forte. Also, I can't help but think that having EB down low on offense means less open floor for slashers like Iggy, Thaddeus Young and Andre Miller.

New York Knicks (25-57)
OK, here's where it starts to get ugly. D'Antoni wants to play uptempo but he's got a roster full of slugs. Only Jamal Crawford, David Lee and Wilson Chandler are good fits. Everyone else is available for sixty cents on the dollar. On the bright side, those slugs will get plenty of shots to pad their stats, making them easier to deal.

New Jersey Nets (23-59)

Is Vince Carter really the guy you want around your young, impressionable players? Expect VC to get moved when the Nets drop out of the third week of the season.

Detroit Pistons (57-25)

Joe Dumars has a reputation for recognizing talent. I'm quite certain that Kwame Brown has absolutely no talent whatsoever. Fortunately, this squad still has Rip, Chauncey, Rasheed and a strong crop of emerging youngsters on the bench, led by Maxiell and Stuckey. If they underachieve, look for Joe D to trade Sheed or Billups and build around Tayshaun. More likely is a return to the Finals, where they'll lose to the Hornets.

Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32)
Nervous days ahead for Danny Ferry. With Lebron's momentous stay/go decision looming, the GMs big signings lately have been Mo Williams and Lorenzen Wright. Eeesh. And it's difficult to picture getting much more mileage out of Big Z. The guess here is that James stays put but not without seriously considering his options first (think Kobe and the Clips a few years back).

Chicago Bulls (42-40)
Ben Gordon's got a legit gripe. Larry Hughes is making twelve mil a year. Nocioni's getting eight. Pax finally paid Luol Deng (smart move) but appears to be content letting Gordon walk, forgetting that two years ago, Gordon scored more points in the fourth quarter than anyone not named Bryant or James. Rookie Derrick Rose should be good enough to make Kirk Hinrich expendable.

Indiana Pacers (33-49)
Jim O'Brien's offense requires good three point shooters. So the team acquired TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack, neither of whom can shoot a lick. Genius. Danny Granger continues to look amazing next to the plodding Dunleavy and Murphy. The Pacers boast the worst pivot platoon in the league with Foster/Nesterovic/Hibbert/Harrison.

Milwaukee Bucks (24-58)
Where to start? Overpaid for Bogut. Obtained Luke Ridnour to be the starting PG. Drafted Joe Alexander way too high. Additionally, I don't see Skiles and Redd getting along. This front office consistently makes awful decisions.

Orlando Magic (47-35)

Despite another growth spurt by Dwight Howard, the Magic will discover they can't rely on PG Jameer Nelson. Hedo and Rashard Lewis will do what they do- make threes in bunches and play porous defense. Stan Van can coach, though, and that ensures them another division title, if nothing else.

Miami Heat (46-36)
With DWade back at full-strength, the Heat will be competitive once again. Beasley will do just fine on offense but struggle to match up with power forwards, infuriating Riley. Props for the James Jones signing- shrewd move. Not so much with Jamaal Magloire. Hey, Riles- how about Marion for Odom?

Washington Wizards (44-38)
Is Gil Arenas healthy? Butler and Jamison will do their thing, as always. The real problems lie with the less-than-stellar bigs (Haywood and Thomas).

*Note: Arenas just had knee surgery AGAIN and will miss the first month of the season- ouch.

Atlanta Hawks (40-42)
Continued progress by Al Horford means they'll vie for that 8-spot again. Losing Childress makes their bench wafer-thin, however. Seriously, name someone on Atlanta's bench.

Charlotte Bobcats (30-52)

Why exactly is Michael Jordan a GM? Expect a bumpy first year for Larry Brown as he discovers that few of the fellas on MJ's roster 'play the game the right way.' Could be some more crying from Adam Morrison on the horizon.

Stoner Hall Of Fame

Congrats to the rooks Chalmers and Arthur, who are now members of a vaunted list of players, past and present, who've been busted with weed:

Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Webber, Scottie Pippen, Allen Iverson, Shawn Kemp, Lamar Odom, Marcus Camby, Dennis Rodman, Damon Stoudamire, Zach Randolph, JR Rider, Brad Miller, Robert Parrish, Joakim Noah, Rod Strickland and of course, Josh Howard.

Anyone else I forget?

Friday, August 22, 2008

All-Export Team

With all the talk of players headed for greener pastures (and bigger paychecks) overseas, I'd like to single out some players who haven't gone yet but definitely SHOULD.

Introducing the All-Export Team, losers who've worn out their welcome on this side of the pond and need to get their sorry asses to the Euroleague pronto.

Stephon Marbury
Pleasepleaseplease just go to fucking Italy already. Sell your crappy shoes over there. What a douche.

Steve Francis
Spare me the headache of hearing about your latest failed comeback attempt. Go try your luck in Juventut or Maccabi. Or retire gracefully into the waiting arms of Cuttino Mobley.

Ricky Davis
Why would the Clips trade for this guy? Not since JR Rider has there been a player this bad for team morale.

Antoine Walker
I'm sick of his sadsack face. With all his pouting and grimacing, he's like the black Danny Ainge.

Brad Miller
Just seems like kind of a dick, right? Maybe he'd fit in better in Poland.

So there's my starting five. If they were on the next flight out, I'd be a lot happier about putting up the money for League Pass next year.

All-Export (dis)honorable mention: Zach Randolph, Jamaal Tinsley, Jason Williams, Erick Dampier, Reggie Evans.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Andrew Bynum: The Next Benoit Benjamin?

As the Lakers contemplate whether or not to give young, recently injured Andrew Bynum a max contract, I�m reminded of another talented center with limitless potential and a questionable work ethic- Benoit Benjamin.

In case you don�t remember Benoit, he was a lottery pick of the Clippers in �85. His first few years in the league, he showed steady progress and appeared to be on the verge of stardom in �88 when he averaged over 16 points, almost 9 boards and over 3 blocks a game.

Then he got a big contract.

The rest of Benjamin�s 15-year career was respectable but hardly noteworthy. Particularly annoying to fans and management alike was Benoit�s complete lack of focus. His legacy was bringing two left sneakers to an exhibition game.

Numerous times in his first three seasons, Andrew Bynum�s attitude has been questioned by not only Kobe Bryant (the parking lot rant) but also by Hall Of Fame mentor, Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Phil Jackson repeatedly called him out for being lazy and slow to learn defensive rotations.

In fact, until this year, Bynum didn�t impress anyone except Jim Buss, the man responsible for drafting him against the better wishes of just about everyone else in the organization.

Then early last season, the kid had his big breakout. With Chris Mihm injured, Bynum stepped into the starting role and played like he belonged there, averaging a double-double and blocking shots at a league-leading pace. With each impressive performance, the critics grew quieter. Kobe stopped pining for Jason Kidd. Phil seemed genuinely surprised and delighted at this unexpected good fortune. Great nicknames like 'Mandrew' and 'Bynumite' started popping up all over the place. People started comparing him to Shaq, for fuck's sake.

As you know, the story doesn't end well. Bynum hurt his knee and missed the entire second half of the season plus the playoffs. In the aftermath of the Lakers/Celtics debacle, many wondered whether his presence alone would have altered the outcome. Wow. Think about that for a sec. Thirty games of solid basketball and suddenly Andrew Bynum's absence is the reason LA lost the title.

Pretty good time to negotiate a new contract, right?

Laker fans think Bynum deserves a max deal now, even though his rookie deal's good through the end of the year. They want to lock him up to keep him from leaving as a free agent in '09.

But what's Bynum proven, really? He hasn't been an All-Star or a Finals MVP. And he's coming off a knee injury. Why not wait until the kid shows he can do it for a full season before breaking the bank?

Remember Benoit Benjamin? I do. I remember a talented big man who stopped caring the second he got paid.

Note: Compare third year numbers between Bynum and Benjamin.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Collective Shrugs For Departing Scrubs

Add Earl Boykins to the list of marginal players who are bailing on the NBA for better contract offers overseas, joining such fan favorites as Carlos Arroyo, Bostjan Nachbar, Nenad Krstic, Carlos Delfino, Josh Childress and Juan Carlos Navarro.

When Josh Childress is the biggest name on any list, you know it's a non-issue.

Here's a picture of Shaq preparing to EAT Earl Boykins.

'C'mere, Lil' Boykins. Get into my belly!'

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Team Nike vs Adidas Brotherhood

Everyone knows that Nike absolutely dominates the US basketball shoe market. Adidas is solidly in second place but it's an extremely distant second, like Phil Mickelson chasing Tiger Woods.

The men's US Olympic team is basically Nike's honor roll: Kobe, Lebron, Kidd, Chris Paul, D Williams, Boozer, Bosh, Carmelo, Tayshaun Prince, Mike Redd- all these guys have Nike contracts. Even Coach K has a shoe deal with Nike. Of the entire team, only Dwyane Wade (Converse, which is now owned by Nike) and Dwight Howard (Adidas) are non-Nike members.

Now look at the players Adidas currently has on its roster: Howard, KG, Duncan, Gilbert Arenas, Chauncey Billups, Tracey McGrady, Josh Smith, Leandro Barbosa and Antawn Jamison.

Get where I'm going with this?

I'm saying fuck the Olympics; nobody gives a shit how many points the US beats Latvia by. I WANNA SEE THE NIKE AND ADIDAS TEAMS GO AT IT.

I wanna see a qualifying series, best of seven, and the winner then gets to represent the USA in the Olympics.

The NBA's always talking about 'transparency.' How about some transparency about how our US team is chosen? Instead of selling the public the ridiculous idea that 12 out of 14 members of our 'national' team just coincidentally happen to be represented by the same conglomerate, why not make the shoe companies battle it out for all the marbles?

This will never happen, of course. Nike wouldn't have the balls. And these millionaire athletes would have to admit that their interest in the tournament was as much financial as patriotic.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Charles Oakley: From Enforcer To...Chef???

Charles Oakley built his career on the ability to simultaneously intimidate and entertain. Best known for beating the shit out of anyone who laid a finger on Michael Jordan or Patrick Ewing, Oak was like a hockey player on the hardwood, the Marty McSorley of the NBA.

He wasn't that tall (6'9) and could barely jump but was still consistently one of the top rebounders in the league simply because of hard work and desire. Fans loved him for it. His jersey always outsold other high profile Knicks at the MSG store.

His off the court antics were well documented, too. He was particularly fond of slapping people that disobeyed him. Like Tyrone Hill. Or Jeff McInnis. Or Scottie Pippen.

So what's Oak up to these days? Um, apparently he's hosting a low budget cooking show. And if you believe John Starks (I do), he just might have the chops in the kitchen to pull it off.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Not OK With Thunder

Scuttlebutt around the internet is that Oklahoma City is leaning toward using Thunder as the new team name of the recently hijacked Seattle Sonics. Apparently, the runners-up are Barons and Outlaws, both of which seem a bit too on-the-nose under the circumstances (although Oklahoma City Outlaws sounds pretty bad-ass).

But why Thunder? That's a name for a horse, not a basketball team.

Having never been to Oklahoma City, I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered that it's mostly famous for:

A. getting bombed by Timothy McVeigh and...
B. being devastated by tornadoes on a pretty regular basis.

I also learned that the Oklahoma City WOMEN'S football team is called the Lightning (pictured). Given the correlation, can we safely assume that Clay Bennett is a huge fan of women's football? How could he not fall in love with these gorgeous creatures?

The men's Arena football team is called the Yard Dawgz. Kinda lame but at least it sounds tough. Thunder ain't tough. Nobody's afraid of Thunder.

Personally, I'd go with the most violent, aggressive name possible. One-upping the Oakland Raiders as the bad boys of sports, I propose...

The Oklahoma City Murder.

Or how about The Oklahoma City Death?

Still not sold?

'Ladies and gentlemen, let me hear you make some noise for YOUR Oklahoma City Psychos!!!'

Now THOSE names would sell some merchandise. Nobody wants a jersey that says Thunder on it. And what would a Thunder LOOK LIKE anyway? What would the mascot be? An acrobatic, tshirt-tossing cat named Rumbles, probably.

NOTE: other names the team is reportedly considering- Wind, Energy. Blech.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Little Nate Honored As Cream Of The Crap

Knicks guard Nate Robinson had his jersey retired by the NBA Summer League 'in recognition of his contributions for the past three years', according to

Why the hell would Summer League be retiring jerseys?

Primarily, Summer League's a place for rookies to get their feet wet. It's also where veteran journeymen (holla back, Jelani McCoy) congregate, desperate to nab one year deals as low-paid benchwarmers.

Being in Summer League more than once means you're doing something wrong, especially if you've already got a contract. Being there THREE YEARS IN A ROW means you should be very worried about your job security.

This dubious distinction is the latest wrinkle in Little Nate's increasingly bizarre career. Best known for The Block on Yao Ming and missing 87 consecutive dunks (and still winning!) at All Star Weekend a few years back, Nate seems destined to be one of those talented guys that shows glimpses (like his 45 point explosion against Portland last year) but never quite becomes a star.

This year could be his best chance. Here's why:

Mike D'Antoni will push the ball and play uptempo, which definitely favors Nate and Jamal Crawford over plodders like Mardy Collins and Chris Duhon. Stephon Marbury's probably a goner, either through buyout or trade. With such marginal talent as his competition, there's no reason why Nate won't log big minutes even if he doesn't start.

The Knicks will be total shit this year but maybe, just maybe, Little Nate can be a shining corn kernel in the middle of that monstrous turd.

NOTE: Nate's jersey has since been 'unretired' and taken off the Cox Pavilion wall (thanks, FanHouse). In short, forget you ever read this.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chris Kaman, German For Hire

So Chris Kaman is representing Germany's Olympic team, despite the fact that he's never been there in his life (and probably couldn't find it on a map). Not nearly talented or popular enough to make Team Nike (aka The C.R.E.A.M. Team), Kaman received instant citizenship and a nice chunk of cash to try and bring the gold 'home' to Deutschland.

Lots of Americans are pissed off about this; they consider Kaman a traitor.

(brief pause while I climb up on soapbox)

I don't really give a fuck which country Kaman plays for but I wish everyone would just admit that the entire corporate entity we call Olympic Basketball has become nothing more than 'pay for play.' Think Kobe, Melo and Lebron would be on Team Nike if they weren't getting crazy money for endorsement and TV deals? Furthermore, if the US economy were to completely bottom out, would anyone be surprised to see all of our supposedly devoted US stars bolt for better paying jobs overseas? It's a joke. So Kaman took the cash and 'became' German just like his great-grandfather. Who cares? Sign o' the times, people.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cotton Camby Comes To The Clips

The Denver Nuggets have traded Marcus Camby to the Clippers for, well...nothing, actually. In a cost-cutting move, Denver basically GAVE Camby to LA (the actual trade is for 'the option to swap 2nd round picks in 2010').

They couldn't get a better offer than THAT for a guy who averaged over 13 boards and almost four blocks last year? He was Defensive Player Of The Year in 06/07, for fuck's sake! GS, Philly, Atlanta...none of these teams were interested? I mean, I know he's had injury problems and that his contract is ridiculous but 'the option to swap 2nd round picks'? Really??? The good people of Denver have gotta be shitting their pants right now.

From LA's perspective, this definitely takes a little bit of the sting out of Elton Brand's departure. It does pose some interesting questions, though. Does this mean Camby's playing PF now? He can shoot the midrange jumper, sure, but he doesn't have enough footspeed on defense to guard forwards out to the 3 point line. Or are they looking to deal Kaman?

This signing also effectively ends any Clippers pursuit of the remaining free agent crop, meaning Josh Smith and Emeka Okafor have one less bidder to drive their prices up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Best Seat In The House

I went through the final regular season stats and looked at each NBA team to determine who played THE LEAST MINUTES in the NBA for 2007.

To put the numbers below in perspective, Allen Iverson led the league in minutes played with 3,423.

1. Jerome James, Knicks- 5 minutes. Total. For the whole season.
2. Bo Outlaw, Magic- 7 minutes
3. Billy Thomas, Cavs- 8 minutes
4. Keith Langford, Spurs- 10 minutes
5. Courtney Sims, Pacers- 11 minutes
6. Loren Woods, Rockets- 17 minutes
7. Guillermo Diaz, Clippers- 18 minutes
8. Ronald DuPree, Sonics- 21 minutes
9. Ian Mahinmi, Spurs- 23 minutes
10. (tie) Jamaal Magloire, Mavs & Shavlik Randolph, Sixers- 27 minutes

Better luck in '08, boys! Don't give up the dream!

Pictured: Jerome James getting stretched sit on the bench.

Koko Archibong Enters The Pantheon

Whether Koko Archibong makes the regular season roster for the Los Angeles Clippers or not, he's officially enshrined in The Knee Jerk Pantheon Of Super Awesome Names, joining Kiki Vandeweghe, God Shamgod, Olden Polynice, Boniface N'Dong, Fennis Dembo and Uwe Blab.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Del Negro ALREADY On Hot Seat?

I'm not one to gossip or toss rumors around (ahem) but I just saw this comment by John Denton on ESPN's site:

'Possibly of greater concern is the fact that earlier this week Rose confided to Douglas-Roberts, his former University of Memphis teammate, that he was frustrated in Vinny Del Negro's structured offense. At times, he seemed somewhat mechanical and unsure of himself in his two games, turning the ball over eight times while handing out just eight assists.'

Could Del Negro get fired before actually coaching a game? And is Rose really bitching about shit less than a month after being drafted? Geeeeeesh.

Summer League Studs To NBA Duds

Been reading lots of hype about the impressive performances of Russell Westbrook, Mario Chalmers and Brook Lopez in the Summer League. I understand that hype sells tickets and that the league needs new stars but do any of THESE names ring a bell?

Sarunas Jasikevicius? Dejuan Wagner? Von Wafer? Marco Belinelli?

All of these cats looked like All Stars in offseasons past against weak competition (and with unlimited fouling). Then the real season comes around and they're lucky to even make rosters. Summer League ain't shit. Never has been.

Sarus Jasikevicius- uh, wtf?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ron Ron for Lamar? Hmmm...

Once again, the talks between Sacto and LA are heating up (says ESPN) regarding a swap of Lamar Odom for crazy-as-fuck Ron Artest. Most of the Laker fans I know personally are strongly against this move, claiming that not only will Artest ruin team chemistry but also totally screw up the flow of the triangle. The way Lamar and Pau moved the ball the second half of last season was truly a thing of beauty and if LA had won the title, this discussion wouldn't be taking place. But after getting punked by Boston, the brass in Lakerland are convinced they need to add toughness and physicality so here we are, sitting on the doorstep of The Artest Era.

Fact: Artest is just as lousy an outside shooter as Odom
Fact: Artest has never been known as a good passer
Fact: Lamar is an infinitely better rebounder than Artest

So what's the attraction? One thing and one thing only- Ron Ron's a bad ass motherfucker. And LA needs somebody other than Kobe that scares the opposition. Artest even scares his own teammates. Since his trade to the Kings, he hasn't played the All NBA caliber defense he's known for but there's little doubt he's still got the ability to do so. Think Paul Pierce would've shot over 60% from the field with Artest in his jersey?

Anyone Need A Tiny Handed Cake Tosser?

Add the Bucks to the list of numbnut organizations that 'see the potential' in Kwame Brown. Yesterday, Mr Tiny Hands worked out for Screamin' Scotty Skiles, who praised him afterwards and even went so far as to say that they were 'lucky' to have him in for an audition. Any Laker fan can tell you that Kwame's much better at putting a cake upside your head than a ball in the basket. Good luck with that one, Milwaukee. After signing Bogut to a 70mil deal yesterday, their next logical move WOULD be to give Kwame an equally ludicrous contract (and more cakes to throw).

*not actual cake thrown by Mr Tiny Hands. If you look at the background, you can see that this cake is clearly in prison.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sacre Bleu! Ronny headed to GS?

Just heard a rumor that Ronny Turiaf got a 4 yr/16 mil offer from GS. With their already inflated cap numbers plus the intention of resigning Sasha, surely LA won't match this overly generous offer for the wild and crazy Frenchman. So I bid adieu to the inspiring, fun loving, energetic guy who came back from career (and life) threatening heart surgery to help get us to this year's Finals.

We'll miss ya, Chocolate Moose!